Sealer Does Not Stop Basement Leaks
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Ron from Michigan on the line who is dealing with some water in the basement. What’s going on?
RON: Yeah, I have a – the wall in the basement, there is some water seeping through it. And this house, I think, was built in 1968, I don’t know. We’ve been here 12 years now. I don’t know how many coats of what have been put on that wall prior to me. But I did wire-brush it and sand it down as much as I could, because I wanted to put a sealer on there. I think what I used was Zinsser. It’s a primer/sealer?
TOM: Yep, Zinsser. Yep. Uh-huh.
RON: And actually, also I used some – DRYLOK, I think it was called? I forget the brand.
TOM: You’re making a critical mistake here, which everybody makes, and that is you’re trying to make your house float, OK?
TOM: By putting all of those sealers on, you’re trying to keep the water out any way you can. We need to stop the water at the source, at the foundation perimeter. That’s why the paint is not staying; that’s why it’s peeling and deteriorating and getting wet, because it’s getting through. And I bet it gets a lot worse after a heavy rain, too.
RON: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And another thing, we have a lot of springs here. We have an artesian well in our yard and not too far from the house. And there – this area is known to have a lot of springs here.
And we did – actually, we had to have a company come in and they jackhammered all around the edge of the wall in the basement and put in a – some kind of a drain system that drains into a sump pump.
TOM: Yeah. And guess what? And you still have a problem, right, even though they jackhammered up your floor?
RON: Yeah. Yep.
TOM: That’s because they’ve not dealt with the source.
TOM: The source of the problem is two things. Your gutter system. You’ve got to have a gutter system.
RON: Yep, we do.
TOM: It’s got to be properly sized. Properly sized means 400 to 600 square feet per spout. The spouts have to extend well beyond the foundation: 4 to 6 to 8 feet.
RON: OK. Mm-hmm.
TOM: It’s got to be way out.
Secondly, you’ve got to have proper drainage. The soil around the house has got to slope. I want it to slope 6 inches down over the first 4 feet. Then it can trail off after that. Those two things will manage the water at the foundation perimeter. I am not surprised that you paid all that money to have that interior drain system put in and you still have a problem. You’re going to have a problem unless you keep the water away from the house. That is the number-one leading cause of basement water and moisture issues.
Take a look at MoneyPit.com; search “wet basement.” You will find a lot of articles and a lot of discussion about the success that people have had doing those two things, which is extending gutters and downspouts and cleaning them and fixing the grading.
TOM: That’ll make the problem go away once and for all.
RON: Yeah, we’re – house is like in a side of a hill, our basement, the patio. We have a patio down in back where it’s a quad-level house and we are kind of – side of a hill and it does slope back. But I think the biggest problem here, to be honest, is all the springs. And I don’t know if we’re going to be able …
TOM: Does your moisture problem get worse after a rainfall?
LESLIE: Then that’s it.
TOM: It’s not the springs.
RON: The spring – actually, we have a big thaw. That’s the worst.
TOM: It’s not the spring, OK?
TOM: It’s not the spring. I say it’s not the spring because if it was the spring, it would be happening seasonally and not consistent with rainfall.
TOM: When it happens consistent with rainfall, it’s drainage, drainage, drainage, OK? You’ve got to fix the drainage. Fix the drainage, your problem is going to go away.